Barn Notes 1/10/24

Compiled by Robert Yates

Trainer Mike Maker and owner Michael Hui have another claim to fame after Misty Veil scored a one-length victory in the $150,000 Pippin Stakes for older fillies and mares Saturday at Oaklawn.

The 1 1/16-miles Pippin marked the first career stakes victory for Misty Veil, 6, who is scheduled to be sold Wednesday in Keeneland’s January Horses of All Ages Sale. Misty Veil, entered as a racing or broodmare prospect, is by Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist and her third dam, Solar Slew, produced two-time Horse of the Year Cigar.

Asked if he believed the Pippin boosted her value, Hui said: “You would think so.”

Misty Veil is the latest success story for Maker and Hui since uniting in 2015. This came with a twist since most of their previous home runs were on the turf with other high-priced claims like Zulu Alpha ($80,000), Hogy ($80,000) and Taghleeb ($62,500).

Maker, on behalf of Hui, claimed Misty Veil for $80,000 out of a fourth-place finish Nov. 24, 2022, at Churchill Downs. All 12 subsequent starts have come on dirt.

“He has a sharp eye,” Hui said. “It’s like I’m a horse owner. He’s a true horseman, to the extent that the plan was to put this horse, eventually, on the turf. But she kept running so well (on dirt). Next spot, next spot, next spot and then today (Pippin).”

Misty Veil had finished second in two previous stakes races for Maker and Hui – $100,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff May 19 at Pimlico and $150,000 Mistletoe Dec. 9 at Oaklawn – was third in the $400,000 G3-Locust Grove Stakes Sept. 16 at Churchill Downs and fourth in the $400,000 G3-Falls City Stakes Nov. 23 at Churchill Downs.

Hui said Maker claimed Misty Veil because she had beaten the trainer a few times, was sound and had starter conditions “for a while.” Misty Veil has earned $276,113 in 12 starts for Maker and Hui, who resides in Little Rock, Ark. Hui co-owns Misty Veil with his orthopedic surgeon, John H. Yocum, another Little Rock resident.

“She’s gotten us out,” Hui said. “She’s already gotten us out.”

It’s not the first time.

Zulu Alpha gave Hui his first career first career Grade 1 victory in the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes in January 2020 at Gulfstream Park.

Zulu Alpha earned $2,091,350 in 18 starts for Hui. Trainer John Ortiz claimed Zulu Alpha for Hui, but the gelding was moved to Maker after one start.

Hogy, in 11 starts for Maker and Hui, earned $443,455, was a Grade 3 winner on grass and ran in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) in 2017 at Del Mar. Taghleeb was a Grade 3 winner on turf and bankrolled $418,133 in 12 starts for Maker and Hui.

Hui and Maker also captured the inaugural $250,000 Oaklawn Mile in May 2019 at Oaklawn with Exulting, who had been claimed the previous month at Aqueduct for $62,500. Exulting, after falling down the class ladder, added victories at the 2021 and 2021-2022 Oaklawn meetings. Misty Veil was also a starter-allowance winner last March at Oaklawn.

“Finally,” Hui said upon his return to Oaklawn’s Larry Snyder Winner’s Circle. “I’m only allowed in here once a year.”

Overall, Misty Veil has a 7-11-4 record from 34 starts and earnings of $617,093. Misty Veil was withdrawn from Keeneland’s November Breeding Stock Sale – she was entered as racing or broodmare prospect – after a being a veterinarian scratch from the $600,000 G1-Spinster Stakes Oct. 8 at Keeneland. The hope then, Hui said, was a Grade 1 placing on her catalog page.

“If she did that, then we would sell her,” Hui said.

Hui said Misty Veil is the second horse he and Yocum have owned together. They also won four turf races with Hawk of War after Maker claimed the gelding for $50,000 in November 2021 at Churchill Downs. Hawk of War earned $178,494 in nine starts after being claimed.

“Doc’s a blessed horse owner, as am I,” Hui said. “He’s pretty much 2 for 2. Yocum has to be the only Oaklawn horse owner, per say, that has two horses and he’s going to be in the black at the end of them. It doesn’t work out any better.”

Hui, 60, retired in 2015 after co-founding Transportation Insight, a Hickory, N.C.-based logistics cost management consulting firm in January 2000. He also bred Grade 1 winner Nickname.

The Pippin was the 400th career Oaklawn victory for jockey Ramon Vazquez.